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Full Cycle: Taking the Mystery out of Menstruation

© Lauri M. Aesoph ND

This information can be used to track PMS and thus allow a woman to make lifestyle alterations which may improve it. Because a woman becomes familiar with her body's monthly metamorphosis, she learns to differentiate between breast changes and vaginal discharge that are normal and abnormal. By recording such information on a daily basis, a woman can widen the doors of intimacy with her mate and enhance sexual understanding. Most of all, a woman gains knowledge of how her body cycles through each month.

Taking monthly charts along to physical exams is extremely beneficial for your physician. Not only does the information give your doctor a concise picture of your health, but opens communication lines between you and your practitioner. This allows you to ask and answer questions intelligently, and in the long run improve your health and the care you get.

Something else that is being discussed within scientific circles and among health care providers is the relationship between immunity and menstrual cycles. Research suggests that a woman's immune system peaks before ovulation and begins to decline after the egg is released. At New York's Cornell University, investigators confirmed a common medical observation that women are usually struck by vaginal yeast and chlamydial infections just before their periods (1).

A Swedish team from Uppsala University proposed that immunity rises prior to ovulation in order to rid the body of germs in preparation for conception and pregnancy. After ovulation or conception has taken place, however, the immune system is depressed because you don't want the body to fight two very important foreign elements: the sperm and fertilized egg (2).

Suzannah Doyle, a Fertility Awareness educator, says that women "tend to feel better, look better, feel their strongest, and most able to handle things during the fertile time before ovulation." These physical characteristics such as clear skin and increased sex drive are the secondary fertility signs that are often discussed during natural family planning classes. Not only are they indications of a woman's peak in health, says Doyle, but on an anthropological level they increase her attractiveness to her mate so the species can propagate.

Investigations are beginning to show, adds Doyle, that surgery, vaccinations, and prescription drugs are less harmful when used on a woman before ovulation. "I don't think anyone has professionally or scientifically recommended this. Although a lot of individual studies have noticed that if you have surgery during your fertile time, your outcome is going to be much better than if you have it during your premenstrual phase. Recovery rates are better, incidence of death is less, rubella vaccinations done preovulatory have less side effects. Women get more drunk having a beer premenstrually than during their fertile time too.

"I'm proposing that in the future," concludes Doyle, "that observing fertility signs will be a way that doctors can actually adjust drug dosages for their patients. I really see looking at fertility signs as a way to increase diagnostic and drug therapy effectiveness eventually."

Menstruation: A Time of Healing
Armed with the knowledge that immunity and menstruation are more complex than we first thought, the question remains: "Should we treat ourselves differently during this time?" Kisma Stepanich, author of Sister Moon Lodge: The Power & Mystery of Mensturation (Llewellyn Publications, 1992) states that menses is a period of healing and regeneration. She says that bleeding is a release and women are instinctively more inward, quiet, gentle, and slower during this time.

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